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Redistricting proposal targets Democrat-held suburbs

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METRO ATLANTA, Ga. — The initial phase of the redistricting process in Georgia premiered Sept. 27 with the release of proposed congressional district maps that could shape elections over the next decade.

The proposed district boundaries alter three seats currently held by Democrats in Fulton, DeKalb and Forsyth counties.

While the maps are preliminary, the implications are evident that Republican legislators are seeking to thwart Democratic gains in the north metro suburbs. The areas were once Republican strongholds but have changed in population and demographics over the last decade.

Redistricting maps 2021

These maps show the current congressional districts, left, and the proposed redistricting boundaries following the latest census data. The proposal would reshape districts 4, 6 and 7 in DeKalb, Fulton and Forsyth counties.

The General Assembly will convene Nov. 3 in a special session called by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to commence the redistricting process that follows the release of census data every 10 years. The maps will be codified as bills and may go through multiple iterations before boundaries are locked down. Once cleared by Georgia House and Senate votes, the bills move to the governor for consideration. The final districts may be used in the next election cycle or on a date specified in the law.

For the second time in state history, Republicans control how congressional districts will be drawn.

Census data released earlier this year showed Georgia’s population increased 10.6 percent from 2010 and 2020, a population increase of one million people, just shy of enough to add another congressional seat.

With the proposed maps, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon), the chairman of the Senate Redistricting and Reapportionment Committee, issued a statement indicating a commitment to transparency and fairness.

“It is clear that this map not only meets principles of redistricting, but we are proud to present a map that, regardless of political party, Georgians can be proud of,” Duncan said. “Ensuring that any maps we produce are fair, compact, and keep communities of interest together, will continue to be of upmost importance.”

Kennedy said the committee has worked to ensure that citizens from all regions of the state were heard. Ten town halls permitting public comments were held over the summer. One hearing was held June 29 at South Forsyth High School in Cumming.

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A political shuffling of Democratic voting blocs would follow in Districts 4, 6 and 7 if the current maps are adopted.

Dunwoody and a portion of north DeKalb County would move from District 6, now held by Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Sandy Springs), to District 4, held by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Decatur). In the current and proposed maps, Johnson’s representation of Rockdale and Newton Counties remain unaffected.

Republican-dominated Forsyth County, which now lies in District 7 and is represented by Lawrenceville Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux, would be moved to McBath’s District 6, adding a greater chance the seat could flip back to the GOP. Bourdeaux’s seat would likely remain in Democratic control with the new district representing about half of Gwinnett County, after adding the Gwinnett portion of Johnson’s old District.

The revised District 7 would include a portion of Johns Creek in Fulton County.

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Since the 2018 midterms, Democrats have cut into the Republican majority in Georgia’s congressional delegation, spurred by metro Atlanta voters. Republicans hold eight districts, while Democrats hold six.

McBath flipped a seat in 2018 held by Republicans since 1979. Bourdeaux likewise flipped a seat held by Republicans since 2003.

Bourdeaux’s office declined to comment until the final maps were approved, citing legal concerns.

Jake Orvis, McBath’s campaign manager, said the representative is focused on serving her constituents and the state of Georgia.

“[McBath’s] work has included sponsoring twice as many bills which became law than her Republican predecessors did in 14 years,” Orvis said. “Rep. McBath’s overwhelming 9-point win in 2020 is proof the people of the 6th want her to continue serving them and that is exactly what they should get.”

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